Eagles-Washington All-22 Offensive Game Review
Some final thoughts on the Eagles’ offense after reviewing the All-22 coaches film from their 27-22 loss to Washington:
*The Eagles run vs. pass ratio (26 vs. 46) has generated some criticism, but I don’t have a problem with Doug Pederson’s play calling. They gained 383 total yards with an injury-riddled offense that largely lacks talent, and their problem was making disastrous mistakes in the red zone, not moving the ball down the field. The Eagles made four trips into the red zone, but only scored one touchdown. They turned it over twice, and once had to settle for a field goal after a Jason Peters false start penalty took away a fourth-and-short opportunity. I think it’s fair to criticize the run-pass disparity in a few previous games, but it wasn’t much of an issue on Sunday.
*Pederson deserves more credit than he’s received for the Eagles’ first touchdown. Because of the built-in formation shift during the hurry-up tempo they were using, Washington’s back end was confused about their coverage responsibilities. That led to an easy touchdown toss from Carson Wentz to Darren Sproles.
*Pederson said Wentz played the best game of his career on Sunday, and it’s not tough to see why Pederson feels that way. The rookie quarterback was playing behind a fourth-string right tackle, a rookie backup right guard and a backup left guard and faced constant pressure as he was sacked four times and hit 10 times. Still, Wentz completed 10 of his 13 pass attempts for 116 yards, including this 13-yard completion to Trey Burton that set the Eagles up for the go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter:
*One thing that really impressed me about Wentz’s performance was his pocket presence and how well he navigated pressure. The best example is when he ducked underneath a defender behind him at the perfect moment:
*Despite the highlights, Wentz also threw a costly red zone interception. It looks like a bad throw and a bad decision, but Pederson also implied Zach Ertz should’ve done a better job on the play. Pederson noted that he needed to “communicate to Zach to just anticipate the coverage,” as Ertz appeared to think Wentz would throw the slant on his back shoulder.
*Wentz doesn’t get any credit for it in the box score, but one of his best throws of the day was this perfectly placed ball to the end zone that Jordan Matthews didn’t haul in:
*Nelson Agholor’s numbers don’t stand out at all after his benching, but he has been playing better. Against Washington, he drew a 44-yard defensive pass interference penalty by getting a step on the cornerback, who gave up an 8- or 9-yard cushion, and he created great separation on his 9-yard reception. It’s a low bar, but Agholor is also no longer making mental mistakes and dropping passes. To be clear: He’s certainly not playing up to his first-round draft status, but he’s definitely worth keeping around for at least another a year. His route running has improved since last season, and he’s doing a better job of creating separation.
*Matthews led the Eagles’ receivers with eight catches for 79 yards, but he made a very costly mistake in the red zone. When Wentz threw him a dime to him in the corner of the end zone, Matthews failed to tap his right foot in bounds. Two plays later, Wentz threw his interception. Here’s the missed opportunity in slow motion:
*I wrote in the offseason about how it’d probably be best for the Birds to part ways with Peters after this season because of his inability to stay on the field last year and his 2017 cap hit. I was wrong. Peters is easily playing at a Pro Bowl level this year, and it’s not a bad deal to have him on a cap hit that ranks seventh among NFL offensive tackles. He’s good in the run and the pass, and his strength is always apparent:
*While Peters played well against Washington, Isaac Seumalo took a big step forward and Allen Barbre had some success in the run game, the offensive line still wasn’t great as a whole. Stefen Wisniewski allowed five pressures, per Pro Football Focus, and the film reflected his struggles in pass protection. Barbre and Matt Tobin also could’ve been better protecting Wentz.
*One of my takeaways after watching the offensive line against Washington? There’s no reason to play or start Wisniewski over Seumalo at any point during the rest of this season. Not only would it be good to get Seumalo the game repetitions because the Birds hope he’s a future starter while Wisniewski will likely be elsewhere next season, but Seumalo outplayed Wisniewski against Washington.
RUNNING BACKS/TIGHT ENDS
*Not long after Darren Sproles got hurt, one thing that became even clearer was how effective he is as a pass blocker. With Sproles (and Wendell Smallwood) out, Mathews was put in more pass-blocking situations than Pederson probably would’ve liked. In the fourth quarter, Mathews didn’t do a good job of picking up a blitzer, which led to a strip-sack:
*After all of the criticism he received last week, Ertz’s play after the catch was much better against Washington. He didn’t do anything particularly impressive with the ball in his hands, but it was clear he was running with more anger and more willingness to absorb contact. He needs to apply that every week going forward.
*One thing I’m curious about is if Pederson will use one particular three-tight end formation more in the final few games. The Eagles had their two best runs against Washington out of the following set, with one going for 21 yards while the other went for 18 yards: